Made Smarter asked over 200 SMEs in the North West about how the last two years have affected their approach to adopting new technology, with productivity and efficiency highest on the priority list.
The survey results reveal that some 38 per cent of manufacturing SMEs have plans to invest in or adopt new technology over the next 2-3 years. Almost half (44 per cent) said they are interested in improving their data and systems integration, while two thirds are considering industrial machinery, robotics and/or automation. Around a third also claimed that their business growth strategy now includes integrating digital technology or a roadmap towards automation.
When asked what their key drivers were for adopting digital technology in 2022 and beyond, 29 per cent cited improvements to productivity, efficiency and output. Increasing revenue (18 per cent) was the second most common driver, following by attracting and winning new customers (17 per cent).
However, the survey also revealed that business owners are unsure of how to proceed. Over a third recognised the need for improving operational efficiencies but said they were unclear on how to do this effectively, while 42 per cent said a lack of capital and funding to invest was holding them back.
Donna Edwards, Made Smarter Programme Director, commented:
“SME manufacturers have endured a few unsettling years and continue to face a multitude of recovery challenges. They are aware that technology brings significant benefits and they risk being left behind by not capitalising on the opportunities on offer.
“Digitalisation is the key to UK manufacturing’s post-COVID survival, recovery, and growth. And with new challenges at our door, such as rising energy prices, supply chain disruption and labour shortages, now is the time for business leaders to reach out and take advantage of the support on offer.”
Made Smarter is designed to help SME manufacturers identify their core technology challenges, navigate complex technologies and build a bespoke digital manufacturing roadmap.